Andrea Ruth wrote about the fact that States Say No To Trump’s Ask for Voter Data… but I think the questions raised are: (a) the wrong questions to ask about our electoral system, (b) presumes that the the aggrieved party is the person that won the election (yeah, right!), and (c) we should vociferously resist the solution that has the federal government sticking their noses further up the back end of the states by compiling a federally controlled database and then trolling the data to ‘detect’ voting offenses.
Andrea noted that:
The request included over a dozen data points, including date of birth, current address, last four of social security numbers, military status, voting history, party registration, and felony convictions.
Oh my, over a dozen data points! There are many reasons to be suspecious of and resist the federal governments’ efforts in this area including the track record of the governments’ bureaucrats in the abuse of this information.
Voter Fraud: Who are the aggrieved parties?
It’s not as simple as saying that our elections need to be ‘fair’ because… well, just because, you know, they just need to be fair in a democracy! Please, let’s not get into the fact that we have a federal form of government and the closest thing we have to a democracy are the New England town halls!
But, can the federal government really be an aggrieved party in any election fraud and should they be leading any investigation at a national level?
It seems reasonable to assume that the governmental units at all levels below the federal level have reason to be concerned about voter fraud. Let’s just assume for a minute that, say, Chicago has enough voter fraud to affect federal elections (I know, I’m reaching here!) Since the same people likely control both the state and federal apparatus and the voters in other parts of the state will be disenfranchised at both the state and federal level it seems to me that the political sub-divisions within a state are aggrieved.
Really, just who are the aggrieved parties?
To my mind, there are three groups that can claim the status of aggrieved:
- The citizens within and across each state are an aggrieved party;
- Other states that lose influence and votes due them because of voter fraud in other states are also aggrieved parties; and
- Lastly, the political party that lose influence because of voter fraud are also aggrieved.
But, why worry about aggrieved status?
If we don’t know who is aggrieved due to voter fraud can we really build a case against what it is and then fix it?
So, how do we root out voter fraud?
In Andrea Ruth’s piece she included a suggestion by Brandon Finnigan, the founder of The Decision Desk HQ who said:
The better way to do it, would be to require states to conduct a random sampling and send the results to the commission to see if voter fraud is going on in any magnitude worth noticing
Uhhh sure, that’s AN approach! But…
My first and overriding objection I have to this is that the federal government requiring states to do anything seems to be problematic to anyone that believes that the states are sovereign.
I think is simplistic in its formulation to assume that, given the general level of understanding of our citizens habits, a ‘survey’ conducted using randomly selected subject can achieve much. But, if we were inclined to give into ‘experts’ on anything I don’t think this would be the RedState that I love.
But, I can also see more than a few other problems with Finnigan’s approach and here are some that jump out to me in no particular order.
- I think the above proposal is overly simplistic in its formulation in that it assumes that we even know the factors that need to be assessed. When we’re finished with the survey we might know that voter fraud has occurred, but we’d likely not have enough information to do anything but wag a finger and say, I told you so! We will have too little data on the extent that it is occurring across states and what course of actions are required to remedy any voter fraud that is found;
- A random sample as a targeting mechanism is far less efficient than using the extensive data that is already in existence in the private sphere. Private industry can be contracted to develop and possibly conduct an analysis protocol, including the development of the necessary field followups to verify and refine the data and analyses;
- The population being sampled must be homogeneous across all of the dimensions or categories of interest so that correct inferences can be drawn but, due to the simplicity of its approach, the suggestion seems more of a ploy to delay getting to the root of the problem than that it is designed to correct the root of the problem;
- Random samples from a population are used in large part for efficiency and cost reasons; and
- Random sampling are often misused in large part because the efficiency and cost considerations override the proper design of the study.
What are some of the real questions around voter fraud?
Personally, I see no coherent attempt to try and understand the concerns in most of the discussions around the detection of voter fraud, including to what extent:
(a) Are there too many votes cast in precincts, districts, and states and, if that is happening, which criminal enterprises are suborning these criminal acts?
(b) Are legal citizens voting in multiple jurisdictions, to what extent, and, if they, how is that happening?
(c) Are criminals voting when they are prohibited?
(d) To what extent are dead or ‘invented’ people voting and, assuming that they have to be both registered to vote and someone has to vote for them, is there an organized enterprise aiding and abetting this voting?
(e) Are non-citizens voting, to what extent, and what organization or organizations facilitating this crime?
(f) Are the discrepancies limited to certain: locales, districts, states, or at a national level and if so, are is there active collusion by groups in these areas?
Federal cooperation, the missing link in trying to root out voter fraud!
States have been trying to get access to information controlled by the federal government like immigration status and criminal records but have been frustrated over and over again by the Democratic party’s apparatus and operatives refusing to provide this information.
What role should the federal government play?
The federal government does not need to assemble this demographic and voting data because we are kidding ourselves that the information that we need to start this investigation isn’t already available in the private sector!
Ted Cruz’s campaign had voter information that was developed by Cambridge Analytica. Per the Boston Globe, https://www.bostonglobe.com…,
Cambridge has a massive 10 terabyte database — enough to fill more than 2,100 DVDs — that contains as many as 5,000 biographical details about the 240 million Americans of voting age. Cambridge considers its methodology highly secretive, but it may include such details as household income, employment status, credit history, party affiliation, church membership and spending habits.
So, in the private sector they have access to a much larger number of biographical details then even the government is asking for in its request for data. But, with records touching 240M Americans of voting age, this represents essentially a complete record of the location, affiliations, voting propensity of our voting age population, including those ineligible to vote for whatever reason that they are ineligible.
The Role of the Federal Government
The proper role of the federal government should be to support the efforts of the aggrieved parties in identifying and eliminating voter fraud. They should:
- Eliminate the justice department’s standing policy of interfering in the voter roll cleanup efforts and other anti-voter fraud efforts like the use of valid picture IDs;
- Immediately cease and desist on the Obama administration’s refusal to provide access to the citizenship status of legal residents within the country;
- Immediately work out a mechanism to share criminal database information with the states so that they can bring their voter lists into compliance with their own laws;
- Where states that haven’t clean up their own voter records and have refuse to clean up their voter fraud, the federal government should partner with the aggrieved states to correct the uncorrected voter fraud risks in those states.
If the parties were serious about rooting out voter fraud (if its occurring), the publicly available data from the Secretary of States and the data that the federal government is withholding could be combined at, say, Cambridge Analytica. (But, really! Do we really think that these data aggregators don’t already have or could easily derive much of the information that the states are missing like suspected immigration status and criminal records?) Then these analytical organization can develop voter fraud detection algorithms and create targeting data to assist any fraud investigations that need to be launched based on this already compiled data.